Why can’t we stop overeating during the festive period?
The week between Christmas and New Year plays havoc with our waistbands. So why do we keep piling more and more on to our plates?
Between Christmas Day and New Year’s Eve, the average Brit gains 6lb – not surprising, given all the chocolate, cheese and turkey eaten in the aftermath of the 25th, a day when most people consume three times as much as usual. But why do we reach for an extra mince pie when we are fit to burst?
It’s because the brain mechanism that makes you hungry, driven by the levels of salts and sugars in our bloodstream, is not the same as the system that makes us stop eating. If we carried on eating until blood sugar levels returned to normal, we’d probably explode as it can take over half an hour for the effects of a meal to reach the bloodstream.
However, this neurological system works better for some people than others, depending partly on our genes. Lots of factors can interfere with this prediction of when we’ve had enough: drinking alcohol, conforming with those around us, boredom, anxiety or excitement.